The Problem with Clarity

4 Comments

The Problem with Clarity

I grew up in the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement. My great grandfather and grandfather were both Assembly of God ministers and I’m deeply appreciative of many things that were passed onto me. I’ve learned along my journey it’s not always necessary to throw out the baby with the bathwater and the importance of “eating the meat and spitting out the bones” applies to almost every arena of life. You don’t have to dismiss an idea or person because you find an area of disagreement. 

Growing up in this movement, however, led many of us to believe that clarity = a closer walk with Christ. If you were really in tune with the Holy Spirit then he would be speaking to you so clearly that it would be impossible to miss God’s will or the direction for your life. This isn’t intended to dismiss the role of the prophet in the church or the ability of the Holy Spirit to bring clarity in our life, instead, it’s addressing the false belief that every issue has a formula and every problem can be traced back to a deficiency in our faith.

There was always an answer, even if we had to make it up right there on the spot and adorn it with some spiritual jargon to make it slide down a little easier. Some of the most egocentric, non-biblical, manipulative statements I’ve ever heard in my life started with the phrase...(click to read more)

4 Comments

Can we disagree and still love?

1 Comment

Can we disagree and still love?

There is no shortage of differing opinions around us. Whether it be politics, refugees, LGBTQ rights, racial tensions - there is plenty to discuss and plenty of varying opinions.  But how do we face disagreements or differing opinions from a biblically-based, gospel-centered perspective as followers of Jesus?

First of all, this question is extremely nuanced and can be answered based on a number of different factors. The Bible employs us to stand firm in the essentials of our faith and to seek unity around these non-negotiables. However, most issues are not black and white as many may think. They require deep reflections, study, discussion, and humility in order to navigate.

Let me give you some thoughts on how we as gospel-centered followers of Jesus can better navigate how we choose to disagree.

5 unfortunate trends I’ve observed:

  • We make very bold statements with very limited information. Everyone is an expert on everything. We have a conversation, read a blog, watch a video clip, hear a story and automatically translate that into an opinion/fact with very little reflection or discussion.

(click here to read more...)

1 Comment

Why cultural lies have left us dissatisfied with relationships

1 Comment

Why cultural lies have left us dissatisfied with relationships

This past Sunday we finished up our series, LOVE LIES, cultural myths we believe about love, sex, and marriage. It’s the second time we’ve done this particular series. There is not another series more discussed, watched/listened to, and attended. Why, because it deeply resonates with questions we’re all facing in one way or another.

Our culture has fed us LIES about love, sex, and marriage and we’ve bought them. These LIES/MYTHS have given us unrealistic expectations about love, sex, and marriage that has only fueled a growing dissatisfaction in many relationships and marriages.

What are some of these MYTHS/LIES that are fueling this dissatisfaction and how do we replace them with TRUTH that will lead us into joy? (read more)

1 Comment

ONE thing our kids are missing

4 Comments

ONE thing our kids are missing

Let me start out by saying I don’t have this one figured out. I’m not an expert in the field. My kids are ages 6, 4, 3, & 1. I have a lot to learn. My church doesn’t have this figured out. We are, however, being extremely intentional about finding a solution.

Here are a few things I've observed that prompted this post:

  • Why are so many kids I grew up with, who had genuine experiences with God, not following Christ today?
  • Why are all the right Christian environments (church, school, camp, etc.) not producing more mature followers of Christ?
  • Why are so many Christian parents obsessed with good things like sports, activities, education, nutrition, etc. and relatively unconcerned about their children's spiritual formation?
  • Why are our teenagers leaving for college after years of attending church and trying to figure out who they are and what they believe?

I believe the answer is multi-faceted but I also believe there is a key ingredient we've neglected.

Faith is not made genuine until it is tested. (read more)

4 Comments

The question that changed everything!

2 Comments

The question that changed everything!

I was just a few years into full-time ministry and I had already started to struggle. I was beginning to feel somewhat disillusioned with the constant necessity of putting on big events, trying to talk people into showing up for church, and the general obsession with numerical growth. It seemed like such a far cry from what I wanted it be and so distant from what I read throughout the New Testament.

It was during this struggle that I felt as though God was changing something deep inside of me. He was beginning to ask me a question that would revolutionize my life and how I would see ministry. (read more) 

2 Comments

Family of Differents: How Paul taught the church to disagree...

Comment

Family of Differents: How Paul taught the church to disagree...

In a social media age where we're inundated with opinions, viewpoints, and offenses, I think Paul's teaching in Romans 14 & 15 has never been more relevant. 

Paul is writing to a church in Rome faced with the difficult task of trying to find unity amidst incredible diversity.

In 49 AD Emperor Claudius declared an edict forcing all the Jews to leave Rome. When the Jewish Christians return in the mid 50's they found that their church had taken on a Gentile flavor. These Gentile Christians were experiencing complete freedom from the law and felt ZERO obligation to honor the festivals, rules, and rituals of the returning Jewish Christians. Paul spends several chapters addressing this divide in the second half of Romans.

This particular disagreement in Romans 14 is about...(read more)

Comment

Please stop freaking out about America's moral decline (5 Reasons)

13 Comments

Please stop freaking out about America's moral decline (5 Reasons)

I sat through a National Day of Prayer service last Thursday and something became very clear about an hour into the service. Christians simply aren’t sure how to respond to the changing moral climate of our country. The majority of the service consisted of videos highlighting gay marriage, Planned Parenthood, the current Presidential race, and an array of other issues the church is facing.

So, what’s wrong with this approach you might be asking? Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?

 

HERE ARE 5 THINGS WE CAN’T FORGET AS FOLLOWERS OF JESUS:

 

       1. HISTORICALLY, THE CHURCH HAS THRIVED IN SEASONS OF SUFFERING AND PERSECUTION.

If you’ve done any study on the early church in the first several centuries then you know a persecuted church has always been a living, revived, radical church. In Acts 8, the martyrdom of Stephen became one of the single greatest factors in the spread of Christianity throughout the world. If you need some other examples feel free to study how the persecuted church around the world today (i.e. China) are growing at an unprecedented rate... (read more)

13 Comments

Navigating God's Will...

Comment

Navigating God's Will...

What's the number one question I get asked about as a pastor: How do I determine God's will for my life? 

Should I go here or should I go there? What if I make the wrong decision? How do I know for sure? What do you think I should do?

Let me first say that God can speak to us in a variety of ways. Sometimes through prayer, through his word, through a trusted friend, mentor, or spiritual advisor. When trying to decipher God's will I believe that obedience trumps everything. If God speaks or leads then we must follow.

What about those moments when we're not sure? When God hasn't necessarily spoken to us? This is when things get a little trickier. This is when it's easy for our own selfish motives and desires to get mixed into "God's will" for us. Let's get one thing straight. I don't believe we are supposed to walk around in fear of missing God's will. I think his grace is sufficient in our weakness and uncertainty. I do, however, believe there are certain principles that should help guide us on the journey.

The first question we must ask is this: What is God's primary purpose for my life? Although our verbiage may differ, I believe our biblical response would be...(Read more)

Comment

People of grace and/or truth?

3 Comments

People of grace and/or truth?

"Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate." - Rick Warren

 

I think it’s safe to say that many Christians are struggling to manage the tension of being people of both grace and truth. In all fairness, it can be a difficult paradigm to navigate. So what is a biblical response to the issues the church is facing today?

First of all, we must get beyond this idea that we must choose sides. The false understanding that you must either affirm or reject somebody’s lifestyle and beliefs. The lie that we must be people of either grace or truth. In an attempt to justify our already-desgined belief system we will misquote scriptures and make sweeping remarks about the life of Jesus that aren’t representative of the whole, and are just plain unbiblical.

For example, far too many Christians believe that Jesus never identified sin in people’s life or called them out to a higher level of truth. He absolutely did...(click to read more)

3 Comments

Are you living under the covering?

1 Comment

Are you living under the covering?

I fear that an incredible lesson is being lost on a generation.

We are living our lives greatly unaware, or at the very least undervaluing, the importance of spiritual authority in our lives. The covering of protection and blessing that living under the canopy of God’s authority ushers into our lives.

God’s kingdom operates according to channels of authority and He chooses to promote according to channels of authority. There is place of blessing that can only be found in submission to godly authority. Unfortunately, this concept of authority has been under threat for some time.

The need to submit to spiritual authority has slowly been eroded by concepts such as personal liberty, the entrepreneurial spirit, and the freedom to choose our own path...

1 Comment

Why "IT" is never enough!

1 Comment

Why "IT" is never enough!

Deep down inside all of us have an “IT.” Something we believe will ultimately fulfill what may be lacking in our hearts. “IT” can be a job, a relationship, a thing, or even a future plan. Are you honest enough to admit your “IT”? _________________________________.

“IT” can be a very important thing, but “IT” can never be enough. Until our “WHO” becomes more important than our “IT,” we will... 

1 Comment

What is God looking for?

1 Comment

What is God looking for?

What is God looking for?  What is it that gets His attention? What is it that turns His head towards YOU? 

The answer is not easy or popular. It may not even be what you think. 

In scripture, we see that God continually bypasses the really talented, the masterfully skilled, and "the most likely to succeed" for the BROKEN. People who have fully embraced God's process. People who have embraced the pain, confusion, and sacrifice that comes with an authentic walk with Christ. People who have willingly surrendered their own plans, agendas, and outcomes.

King David understood that... (click to read more)

1 Comment

The Irony of the Shortcut

1 Comment

The Irony of the Shortcut

The irony of the shortcut is that they are actually detours in disguise. 

I had a friend growing up who absolutely refused to sit at a train crossing and wait. He would rather pull a u-turn in the middle of the road and race down to the next cross street, usually taking two or three times longer than just waiting.

We unfortunately assume that whatever route is quickest must be the best. At times, however, by taking the short route we unintentionally stunt the process of growth and development in our life. We become so enamored with progress or forward movement, we are quick to dismiss any stage of life that forces us to wait or get outside our comfort zone.

Can I encourage you with this? Please don’t assume the shortcut will get you to your destination any quicker. Be willing to embrace the process, no matter how uncomfortable that process may be.

1 Comment

Death of the 5-Year Plan

1 Comment

Death of the 5-Year Plan

I can't begin telling you how many times I've been asked about my 5-year plan.

The truth is I used to have a 5-year plan. As a recovering clarity addict, I had everything in my life planned out perfectly. Several years back, however, I noticed a recurring theme in my life - none of my 5-year plans actually happened. At least not the ones where I tried to predict where I would live or what I would be doing or how everything would play out.

  • I've learned that almost every great story has this line somewhere in it: "That's not how I thought it was going to happen."
  • I'm learning that living by faith is actually a more exciting journey that trying to figure it out.
  • I'm learning that allowing God to re-route me is a necessary part of allowing the Holy Spirit to direct my steps.
  • I'm learning that plans are a good thing but learning to hold them loosely is an even better thing.
  • I'm learning that so much of my need for clarity was really rooted in a lack of trust.

Where will I be in 5 years? I have no idea, but I can't wait to find out.

1 Comment

Why Obscurity is Necessary.

1 Comment

Why Obscurity is Necessary.

Moments of obscurity are not just necessary - they're mandatory for the process of growth as a leader and a disciple.

In his book, The Making of a Leader, Robert Clinton calls this the life maturing phase. It's the place where God uses isolation to teach important inner leadership lessons. Unfortunately, too many developing leaders do not sufficiently value these moments of obscurity. Instead, they jump straight into productivity and activity, neglecting the immeasurable value that can be discovered in isolation.

Think about the importance of isolation:

  • Isolation reveals true identity. It's only in the obscurity of isolation that our true selves emerge. Isolation gives you the clearest picture of the true you.
  • Isolation tests our character. This is the space where our character is truly developed and refined.
  • Isolation gives our lives perspective. Leaders need this space so they can appreciate what matters.

1 Comment